Paramedic union president Bronwyn Barter (left) and Tofino paramedic Rhiannon Davis describe Davis’ work making house calls under a new B.C. program, March 8, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Paramedics to get their own union

Minister Adrian Dix wants to deal with opioids, community care

The B.C. government will be better able to work with paramedics on their most pressing issues once they have their own union bargaining unit, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

Dix announced Tuesday that the change is to help the paramedics deal with the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, which has put pressure on ambulance and other emergency services. It will also help with a long-term project to integrate rural paramedics with residential care and allow house calls with elderly people, he said.

“A standalone bargaining unit would provide members of CUPE local 873 the opportunity to integrate emergency health services provided by paramedics and dispatchers further into the health-care system,” Dix said. “By helping to ensure a strong voice for paramedics, this change would also support patient care, with a focus on key areas such as response times, rural and remote staffing, and innovative ways of treating patients with non-emergency injuries and illnesses.”

Former health minister Terry Lake announced in March 2017 that a pilot project for rural paramedicine is to be expanded. It started in Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Hardy, Cortes Island, Fort St. James, Hazelton, Chetwynd, Creston and Princeton.

The program has been expanded to more than 70 rural communities, allowing paramedics to visit patients between emergency calls to help them treat people at home or on scene in response to a 9-1-1 call where the patient does not require transport to a hospital.

The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget included $91.4 million over three years to fund the new paramedic system, hire 60 more paramedics and 20 ambulance dispatch staff.

A “universal hourly wage” for rural paramedics took effect in April 2017, replacing paid-on-call and giving part-time paramedics a raise.

Communities to receive rural paramedicine service, as announced in March:

• Island Health region: Alert Bay, Cortes Island, Denman Island (including Hornby Island), Gabriola Island, Galiano Island, Gold River, Mayne Island, Pender Island, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port Renfrew, Port McNeil, Quadra Island, Sayward, Sointula, Tahsis, Tofino, Ucluelet, Zeballos

• Northern Health region: Atlin, Chetwynd, Dease Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle, Haida Gwaii, Hazelton, Houston, Hudson Hope, MacKenzie, McBride, Kitwanga, Southside, Stewart, Tumbler Ridge, Valemount, Wells

• Interior Health region: Alexis Creek, Anahim Lake, Blue River, Clearwater, Clinton, Creston, Edgewood, Elkford, Field, Fruitvale, Gold Bridge, Golden, Greenwood, Kaslo. Keremeos. Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lytton, Midway, Nakusp, New Denver, Princeton, Revelstoke, Riondel, Rossland, Salmo, Seton Portage, Sicamous, Sparwood, Winlaw

• Vancouver Coastal region: Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Bowen Island, Madiera Park, Texada Island

BC legislatureparamedics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet’s Terrace Beach Resort is for sale

The commercial offering of 21 suites and cabins was recently listed for $4,495,000

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

“He was just untying the boats and watching them float away,” said Harbour Master Kevin Cortes.

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Ucluelet RCMP warns of scammers impersonating police

“Police will never demand payment of any kind to get rid of an arrest warrant.”

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Most Read